At least no one yelled

7 days ago, I did not yell at my children.

I didn’t know that was significant until after it was over.

7 days ago marked a serious upset in our daily lives.  The kids learned an upsetting lesson in the laws of nature regarding predators and prey.  Apparently, if you put an adorable, sweet dwarf hamster in a cage, name it, coo over, pamper it with treats, and call it a pet, your sweet fuzzy cat (whom you’ve also cood over, pampered and petted) will still look at it and think, “dinner.”  We returned home from the library to find an upside-down, empty cage with the door flung open.  A frantic search uncovered the worst – his tiny lifeless body, the victim of domestic violence.  None of the prime suspects (2 fats cats and 2 moron dogs) are talking. 

I spent the rest of the day cleaning messes and comforting sad children.  At the end of this emotionally draining day full of hugs and tears, my youngest tried to search for the silver lining behind the cloud.

“Well, at least no one yelled at us today,” he sniffed.

This single comment struck me harder than anything else that happened that day.  Apparently, not getting yelled at was unusual enough to be noted and celebrated.  Wow.  I honestly didn’t think I yelled at my kids that much.  I guess when the moment comes, I yell and move on, but he remembers.  It sticks with him.  I don’t like that about myself.

So for the past week, I’ve made a serious effort to control my voice.  My house rule for the children has always been, “We speak quietly and respectfully to one another” (, and I’m renewing my effort to follow this rule myself.  My son should go to bed almost every night knowing that no one yelled at him that day.


My son is a redneck joke

Homeschool field trips rock.  Yesterday, we took the kids on to Forth Worth to see Deep in the Heart, a musical about Texas history put on by Kids Who Care (  The play astounded us all with incredible performances and moving portrayals of the Alamo, tornado victims of Saragosa (go ahead and google that, it happened while I was attending high school in another small Texas town), and other historical vignettes.  My kids’ favorite parts, though, were the jokes scattered throughout.  They’ve been repeating them to each other  ever since.  Here’s one of their favorites:

If you ever hear a redneck yell, “Hey y’all, watch this!” then step back.  Those are probably the last words he’ll ever say on this earth.

It was funnier the first 7 or 8 times. 🙂 

Last night, I was mashing potatoes for dinner and I heard my youngest son zip past, followed by strange noises, and a muttered, “Wow, that could’ve hurt.”  I ignored this.  Then Sean began to live the joke.

“Hey, mom!  Watch this!” he yelled.  

I’m not sure why he yelled as he was standing exactly 8 inches from me, but apparently this sort of activity requires yelling. 

I turned in time to see him rocket across the kitchen tile floor in his stocking feet, assume a surfing position, and attempt to slide into the living room.  He feet shot up from under him and he hit the floor flat on his back. 

He might’ve been hurt, but it was hard to tell.  Everyone in the house was roaring with laughter, and he had to laugh, too.  Fortunately, he will live to attempt more foolish stunts in the future. 

Doggone it, I’m raising a redneck.

That’s a good enough reason

While I sat at the computer wasting time surfing, I mean, um, researching and studying, I heard a repetitive, “scritch scritch scritch” behind me.  Turning my head, I spotted my clever and curious 11 yod diligently working with the vegetable peeler. 

 “What are you peeling, Jordi?” I asked, my curiosity piqued.

“This!” she chirped holding up a now oddly shaped object.  “It’s a cracker.  Did you know that this makes really REALLY tiny crumbs?”

I was stumped.  It seemed illogical to me. 

“Why are you peeling a cracker?” 

“Because I’ve never done it before.”  She grinned and then skipped away.

Why not? 

The chance to reinvent yourself (or Homeschooling Benefit #5,126,092)

I never saw this one coming.

You have to understand that my son has always been shy.  You know the type.  Can’t ask a store clerk for help.  Won’t walk across the room because “people will look at me.”  In public, he has always withdrawn into a safe, quiet mode.  Having a book or Nintendo DS handy to hide inside are high on coping strategy list.  It’s been dubbed his “alone cone.”  Sure, at home, he may be the life of the party, but around anyone he’s known less than 3/4 of his life, forget it.

Then something strange happenned.  Well, a series of events really, but if you don’t understand how shy the kid was, the rest of it won’t matter to you.  Surf on to another blog. 🙂

Recognizing a great interest for science in him (particularly the mad scientist kind), we started a robotics club.  He met a number of like-minded goofy, fun, bright (and yes, a little nerdy) friends.  They had a blast. 

Recognizing a bit of a ham in his little sister, I signed her up to perform in a musical production of 101 Dalmatians.  (That’s another benefit of homeschooling – the ability to completely rearrange your academic schedule at any point to accomodate huge time-consuming opportunities as they arise…but I digress). 

The shy kid sees the goofy kid performing on stage.  One of those nerdy scientist kids is also in the play, making the comic relief part (you remember the dumb sidekicks Horace and Jasper, right?) look like more fun than an army of flying monkeys.  The evil green kind.  The audience roars with laughter at his silly antics.  And suddenly, the shy kid puts his brain in gear.  You can see the clogs turning.  You can hear them turning, too, because being a teenager, the cogs are kinda rusty and squeaky. 

Hmmmm.  1.  It’s possible to be into science and fine arts.  2.  It’s possible to act like a complete moron and have people approve of you.  3.  It’s possible to make complete strangers laugh just the way you make your little brother and close friends laugh.  4.  Maybe having people look at you isn’t necesssarily a bad thing. 

And this is the part I never saw coming.  He’s been bitten by the drama bug.  My son – the shy one, the “people will see me!” one, the one I had to threaten with public humiliation before he’d introduce himself to new people a few years ago – he’s hamming it up with abandon in front of a group of kids in a drama class (some of them, gasp!, complete strangers).  He’s poring over a script.  He’s yearning to be on stage in front of a huge audience. 

I can only relate to the school environment I grew up in.  The shy kids pretty much stayed shy.  The outgoing, popular kids stayed outgoing and popular.  Once your personality was cast, you didn’t get to change because too many people knew your baggage and receognized you for who they expected you to be.  I love that my children can choose to try new activities and reshape their personalities to incorporate new events and new opportunities. 

I wonder where the road will lead next.

Vacation Mush-Brain

I don’t know how it happens.  We’ve only taken 3 weeks off for the holidays, and dragging the kids’ brains back into schoolwork is like juggling cats.  Do visions of Guitar Hero still dance in their heads, pushing out any room for algebra and grammar?  Suddenly it takes 4 hours to complete a math lesson, and my son and daughter both FORGET to do their timed drills and facts practice before their math.  We’ve only done it that way for four years, so obviously that wouldn’t be ingrained into habit yet.  (Sorry, I don’t know how to make the rolling-my-eyes smiley face)

 It’s enough to turn me into a Scrooge and cancel Christmas breaks permanently.  Except I’m already dreaming of Spring Break. LOL